Several thousand unionized coal miners, electrical workers and others filled Pittsburgh’s downtown on Thursday to protest the Obama administration’s proposed rule to curb carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants, ahead of two days of hearings on the issue in the city.
But in an indication of how the issue has divided the labor movement, several major unions were absent from the protest. Some of those have backed the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades, while others have not yet taken a clear position on the matter.
The United Mine Workers of America and other unions who organized the rally argue that the EPA rule to lower carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 based on 2005 levels would boost electricity prices and cost more than 65,000 jobs mostly across Appalachia, while doing little to address climate change globally.
“It’s going to be devastating if it goes through in its current form,” Cecil Roberts, president of the UMWA, said in an interview before the protest.
More than a hundred representatives from the coal and utility industries, labor unions, environmental groups and others are scheduled to present their views during two days of agency hearings in Pittsburgh, beginning Thursday.